A Punjabi View of Indian Matchmaking

Navjot Pal Kaur
9 min readAug 17, 2020

I think she should change her talking pattern also“ — Sima Taparia matchmaker from Mumbai

To say that Indian matchmaking is a show that people enjoy to hate watch is an understatement. In dreary times, when everyone is worried abou COVID-19, and the President of the United States is threateneing to kidnap postal boxes so that people can’t vote him out, this show takes us back to the times of when we used to go out and spend time on terrible dates. Which is why when Aparna talks about why she choose a bar that closes early and gives her dates only one hour, we totally begin to learn and understand new things about what today’s South Asian generation wants to see in their life partners.

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When I wrote about Rupam Kaur’s episode in the show, I also looped in Gurki Basra who was on Dating Around on Netflix (if you don’t want spoilers watch the episode before reading onwards, otherwise you’re in for the whole spoiler, you’ve been warned). With the explosive nature of the date who made so many misconceptions about Gurki’s parents -who had an arranged marriage- and his subsequent yelling at her for talking about it, it was a moment that captured the audiences reaction. Overreact much? Sounds like something an Indian auntie would do.

Credit: Netflix Indian matchmaking

This show was definitely -controversial opinion here- a spinoff of Dating Around with South Asian cultural contexts. Sima Taparia from Mumbai visits her clients in Mumbai and the United States and nit picks around people’s own characteristics while claiming that “I think she isn’t stable” for wanting to put standards in and not just marrying whoever Sima Auntie picks out right from the get go.

I also couldn’t help but noticing that this show also features a lot of characters who are either self-employed through their business or otherwise professionally employed in a model minority occupation such as the legal field (no hate here, if people love being lawyers thats their choice). With the exception of Vyasar who I found more connection with since he seems like a more open person and easy to connect with. The thing I love about Vyaser is the fact he’s a college counselor which means he has more influence to mold and shape younger generations and help them navigate life with the knowledge they need. Which as we know from what Vyaser shares, he was unable to do so since his father wasn't really active in his own life.

It’s not hard to see how much Aparna’s mom is like so many Asian Tiger moms who demand that their children satisfy and the fill of the educational and occupational things that they never got to do. Which is why Jotika Auntie is so demanding on her own children for them to live up to her expectations. We can definitely relate to that for sure. But in the competition to see whose mom could be more cringe worthy, I do think that Akshay’s mom Preeti took away the title for sure.

“ my only issue is, that the girl should be flexible” — Preeti Auntie

Not only did she open up the treasure trove of jewels and clothing for the world to see, she showed us what happens when women do marry into her family. See, every brown women, whether she’s Punjabi, Tamil, Gujrati, etc is told this this magical lie:

“you can do whatever you want to do whenever you get married”

This technically isn’t true because when you marry into another family, you have to live by their rules if you live in a joint family arrangement like Akshay and his family. It is a lie, that once it is said enough times can lead people to get married only to find out that they can’t go to Serbia like they wanted to, now they have to make mummy ji’s son some food and wait on him hand and foot.

“these are my rules and my house, you have to follow these rules” — Preeti Auntie

Photo by Avnish Choudhary on Unsplash

The next uncomfortable thing is when Radhika is talking about wanting to be a working woman and actually do a job that she took her C.A. exam for, and then Akshay is looking at her like she’s sprouting horns for wanting to not sit at home idly.

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Ankita and Aparna also the same characters but removed by thousands of miles. When the show begins, the editing makes you hate Aparna, but then you gradually warm up to her once you see the motivation behind why she’s so picky. The reason why she has standards (like everyone should have) is because her mom was forced to get married and she’d rather wait it out and find the right person. Which makes sense. You wouldn’t marry someone without understanding who they are (our parents, though didn’t have that choice).

The theme that also keeps coming up is the fact that some couples were forced to get married at very young ages. Aparna’s mom got married at 19, Sima Auntie got married at the same age and the couples interviewed for the show also have the same consensus that they were pressured by their families to get married.

The Creepy Bits

In the run down of the beginning of the show we see Sushil ji -one of two pandits we see on the show- wants to know how the person is ‘good in the bed’ and that just sends gross goosebumps up and down my spine.

  • The fact that Netflix didn’t show the full part to Guru’s reason for not drinking on the date he had with Nadia. They just make the audience assume he’s a judgmental asshole (which he isn’t).Which he explains in this video.
  • When Akshay says he’s “close to his mom” and that she’s picking out a wife for him like it’s a shopping trip his mother is going on and trying to explain what he wants from that shopping trip.
  • Rajnish Jaiswal is shown on dates with Aparna and Nadia but we don’t see him on the show in any major way.
  • The fact that Aparna thinks that husbands dont need to interact with their wives on the daily. Like, if one partner is more independent than the other, sure, that’s fine. But the way that Aparna says “I see my friends and they’re with their husbands all the time and I ask them why they dont HATE THEIR HUSBAND.” She says she would rather not see her husband all the time which kinda negates the whole marriage intention since you’re spending your life with that person.
  • When Sima Auntie says “if the lawyers in India are females people are scared”
  • Aparna asking why people don’t know about the salt flats in Bolivia, when I don’t even know that until this show. What are salt flats?
  • The way Geeta Auntie claims that Ankita would need to sideline everyone in her life just to focus on her relationship. That she would need to be ready to give up everything at a moments notice and move with her husband. Like, Ankita has a whole ecommerce brand. You think anyone’s leaving that behind? Talk about outdated/unfeasible expectations.
  • While we’re on Geeta Auntie, can we saw how wrong it is to leave out the fact that someone had been married? Leaving such a crucial piece of information sows the seeds for mistrust. She shouldn’t have hidden that. He shouldn’t have hidden that.
  • Nadia’s overemphasis on an Indian match. It seems like she fetishizes to some extent the fact that an Indian match necessarily means that she’s going to have a good life. She has so much to bring to a relationship and her personality is 10/10. She can do much better if she broadens her criteria.
  • The way that Pradhyuman brags about “being independent from a young age” and having “so much freedom to do things” like his male privilege is clearly showing if your sister had to get married at 24 and you’re 30 and still single that means that there aren’t the same pressures for you both.
  • Vinay’s ghosting of Nadia and the way he just brushes off the concerns that Nadia has had about his lack of direct communication. Every woman out there knows that dreaded feeling of being left on read, or not hearing from their date and left to wonder if they’re still meeting that night. Perhaps the worst, being ghosted outright without an explanation.
  • The second Pandit-Ji that Sima Auntie goes to, and based on just pictures of people he’s able to tell what their future holds. Thats some next level creepy without a doubt.
  • In the third episode when Sima Auntie is packing her things, the show frames it as her packing up and leaving in anger after she is not able show Aparna the candidates she’s expecting.
  • The outfits that Pradhyuman makes for the dieties. I don’t even own that many clothes!
  • Lastly, the *staged* Roka of Akshay and Nadia. Biggest catfish out there.
Image credit: Netflix Indian matchmaking

Vyaser, Ankita, Shekar, Rupam and Rashi the return to normalacy

Vyaser, Ankita, Shekar, Rupam and Rashi were my hands down my favorite characters on the show. I feel like they’re so much more relatable in that, they actually love their jobs and have a passion for wanting to change the world.

Shekar in particular matches 100% of what I would look for in someone (if we make it past the discussion of finances, debt, children, AKA the real topics people should be talking about it we make it past the initial stage). Shekar is a professional but definitely knows that theres to life beyond work and isn’t afraid to help someone in need.

Vyaser as mentioned above, brings the very relatable issues of having come from a family with it’s own problems and one that breaks the mold of a traditional nuclear family. This is important because not only is his mom also was a single mother, but the fact that his upbringing channeled a way for him to make a difference in the world. With Vyaser it seems like he and Rashi were meant for each other, given how hard they both work and how much their careers mean to them. In the end, they didn’t work out but it still feels good seeing this pair in motion.

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Ankita is the very reflection of the modern woman. She’s not willing to stand down from being met half way from whoever is her partner. Which it should be this way. If you don’t have things in your life that keep you busy, it will become harder for you to maintain an identity separate from that of your spouse. I love her entrepreneurial spirit and the fact that, like Aparna, she’s dead set on finding someone who fits and not settling for less. Seeing how much of my personality is in her, provides reassurance to me on some level that women out there are owning what they do and loving what they do.

To conclude, this show is cringe worthy to watch, revolting at worst. But viewers will see themselves in each character and hopefully take away the fact that caste, colorism, capitalism, the three C’s: aren’t enough to find a perfect partner. Sometimes what we’re looking for isn’t always there. As Sima Auntie says, “you need to be adjustable and flexible” but like Aparna says “usually I’m quick to be like “nope.” “yup.”

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Navjot Pal Kaur

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